Since the Free Farm closed last year, I have once again centered my activities in the Mission where I live. Last week I met an inspiring farmer named Ron Ferrel from Oklahoma who writes an online blog for Mother Earth News (here is his latest one).  We quickly saw how many of our ideas meshed. One of his lines was “don’t invest in Wall Street, invest in your street. “ We both are interested in inspiring our neighbors to grow food in their backyards.

The 23rd street Garden is a project that will help us with our goal of encouraging more food growing in our neighborhood. This week we began using the wood we rescued from the Growing Home Garden to build raised beds that we will grow vegetables in.

We could really use help not only building more beds, but we have a lot of carpentry work to do fixing garden benches, fixing the new compost bin, and setting up our hoop house that we saved from the Free Farm.  We also need help with plumbing and installing drip irrigation.  In general there is a lot of work to do to make the 23rd Street Garden a good resource for our neighbors. Please drop by during our Saturday or Tuesday work days or contact me by email.

I want to share a video that Pancho sent me that picked my spirit up. There is so much sad news these days and this is the message we all need to hear to get us up on our feet so we can walk the talk. I want to share a video that Pancho sent me that picked my spirit up. There is so much sad news these days and this is the message we all need to hear to get us up on our feet so we can walk the talk. What is said in this video reflects our thoughts and feelings too. Canticle Farm is truly our sister project in spirit.

This week at the Free Farm Stand I was so happy that we had a great selection of produce.   Pax and I helped harvest 250 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruit. It is a lot of work, but we so appreciate the free produce to give away. We also could really use help harvesting at Alemany Farm right now when there is so much summer bounty. We are there around noon on Fridays . We only had the energy to pick some of the cherry tomatoes that were there last week for example.  On August 9th I won’t be available to go there myself to harvest, so on that day especially we could use help.

Here are some photos of the beautiful vegetables that we had:

P1010001 Michael grew these in his Potrero garden from Rocoto pepper seeds

from the Treat Commons Community Garden pepper plant. Also Janet brought more from her garden

P1010012she also brought pineapple sage leaves that make a mild herbal tea


P1010003cucumbers from Alemany Farm

P1010004I brought samples of the white sapote fruit that  I grew in my backyard for people to taste

P1010015I also brought lemons from our backyard
P1010009plums Kerry brought from a neighbor in San Jose

2014-07-27 12.47.35a neighbor brought nopales from his garden to share

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I don’t have a photo of the new Vegan Information booth at the Free Farm Stand that Pax set up, but it is a welcome addition to the Stand that is much needed. If you have any questions about how to go vegan ask Pax. If we are moving away from the non-sustainable culture and economic system that is so prevalent today, then we need to move away from eating habits that contribute to the violence against animals.  Like St. Francis sang “Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures”.

I am hopped up on hope these days. Sometimes I feel just overwhelmed with the things I am doing, but what keeps me going is knowing that we can make a better world by all of us being generous and compassionate in the work we like to do.

These long summer days have been fabulous and I have enjoyed working in different gardens in the Mission and Bernal Heights. On Fridays I have been helping out at Alemany Farm mostly harvesting vegetables and fruit for the Free Farm Stand. I have spent time some  working at Treat Commons Community Garden.  At our workday there two weeks ago I weeded, planted marigolds and a rare white chayote, and did a lot of pruning of trees. The apricots there have been delicious!

In my backyard I am just trying to keep up the watering, plum harvesting, and various maintenance jobs. I still have honey that needs bottling, and there is a huge invasive vine that needs pulling up and removing.

The new garden on 23rd Street is moving forward.  Work has begun on creating new beds and widening the pathways. We also are regularly turning the compost and trying to break down all the massive amounts of leaves there. Thanks to the compost I bring there from Martin de Porres soup kitchen and the left over mushy fruit that I can’t get turned in jam or cobbler, I have been able to get our pile up to 140 degrees. needs pulling out and a lot of dead vine and bamboo that needs to be moved out.  Also, I still have a lot of seedlings from Green Gulch and Alemany Farm that are stored in my backyard that either need planting, potting up, or just given away at the Free Farm Stand or the new garden.

Now there is another new garden on Alabama St.  I have found two people who have expressed interest in tending to it and learning about gardening in the meantime.
When I watch videos like this from John Kohler of I get very inspired: . I want the  the  garden to grow food as beautifully as John’s garden and as intensively, while at the same time maintaining  its wildness and feeling like a forest.

In a previous announcement I sent out, I talked about the Growing Home Garden being closed down.  I went over there last week with two friends who helped me rescue two big pineapple guava bushes and we planted them in the orchard at Treat Commons.  There are a lot of redwood beds there, a compost bin,  benches, and lots of soil that we probably can take for the new garden. On Saturday July 12 the Growing Home Garden on Octavia between Oak and Page Sts. will be open for people to come and take plants and trees (there are about 30 trees there  that need homes and I have the inventory of them if anyone has a place for them). On that date we can go there and take apart the wooden beds (they are nailed together), move the benches, compost bin,  and the soil if we have the people power and time.) We will be there at 10am though the 23rd St. garden in the Mission will be open at the regular hours 9am-2:30pm.

We need all the help we can get, plus a  van or pickup truck to help us move the wood.  Please contact me if you can help or send out word anyone you know.

Sunday at the Free Farm Stand was a gay day for fruit lovers. The Hecka Local table had loquats and the first apples from from Alemany farm, oranges from a neighbor who has been bringing them the last few weeks and lemons too, and apricots from another neighbor on Harrison St. that my new friend and volunteer Anthony harvested. He also picked lemons from a tree in his back yard. Then there were plums from my friend Michael Kan who lives in the Bayview, plums from my garden and some from the 23rd St.  garden.  Here are pictures of the abundance:

P1010016 P1010019 P1010020 P1010037
On  Sunday July 13 the  Puppet Riot will perform our first ever puppet show: FPR Flyer cropped)A volunteer sent me an article about a “DIY $2 self-watering garden bed …” that lead me to a gardening project that is building these beds and is growing community and food in the spirit of the  Free Farm Stand: The Food is Free Project is similar to what I would like to see in the Mission. “We teach you how to connect with your neighbors and line your street with front yard community gardens which provide free harvests to anyone.” Since we don’t have that many front yards in the Mission, we have to utilize our back yards to grow food and community. I hope that the 23rd Street  garden will demonstrate to our neighbors how they can be part of our own style  Food is Free movement we are growing here in the Mission.